MANILA, Philippines -- After a successful 2020 that saw Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 turn professional, FIBA has re-certified the young league as its 3x3 partner in the Philippines.
FIBA 3x3 chief Ignacio Soriano lauded the efforts of the three-year old league, headed by Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas, in paving the way for the country to garner points to qualify for the Olympic qualifying tournament set from May 26-30, 2021 in Graz, Austria.
"Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 has been a key partner of FIBA for the development of 3x3 in the Philippines over the past years," said Soriano.
"It's a pro league that has generated so much activity and ranking points for the Philippines, that it has played a significant role in bringing the country to the brink of the Olympics at the FIBA 3x3 Olympic qualifying tournament."
Even the COVID-19 pandemic did not stop Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 from holding a tournament. They put together the President's Cup at a bubble inside the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
Soriano said the fan experience inside the bubble was "particularly eye-catching." It also became an inspiration for FIBA 3x3 for their own events.
For 2021, Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 is in a rebuilding stage. Though there will be a lot of faces, the goal remains the same -- to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
One of the key point-garnering events the league will host is the 2021 Chooks-to-Go FIBA 3X3 Manila Masters scheduled in the second or third quarter of the year.
"We're looking forward to bringing the FIBA 3x3 World Tour back to the Philippines in 2021, after two amazing Masters in 2014 and 2015. Moreover, we're keeping a close eye on the development of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 pro league, which has brought competitive teams and tons of great ideas for the development of our own FIBA 3x3 events," said Soriano.
Speaking on behalf of FIBA 3X3, Soriano said he is looking forward to growing the partnership with Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 in helping develop the sport not just in the country but also in the region.
"In order to fully grow as a standalone basketball discipline, 3x3 needs dedicated players who elevate their game to the specificities of 3x3 and can act as ambassadors during the entire year. A 3x3 basketball pro league offers a unique platform for the development of these top players, who will convert fans worldwide to follow and play 3x3," Soriano said.
"For instance, the teams coming out of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 events have been able to play on the FIBA 3x3 pro circuit all around the globe, including the FIBA 3x3 World Tour. These teams have brought a spectacular amount of new fans to 3x3, from the Philippines and beyond."
For his part, Mascariñas vowed to continue helping FIBA 3X3 in grooming more Filipinos to the sport.
"For 2021 and beyond, we will continue with what we are doing. Of course, there will be a lot of new faces in our league but the mission remains the same which is to prove that our athletes can compete with the world's best," he said.
FIBA's endorsement of Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 comes as the PBA is setting up its own 3x3 division.
The PBA announced last week that it will hold 3x3 competitions in between conferences, with all 12 franchises set to field in teams. Four or five guest teams are also set to take part.
Interestingly, the PBA has appointed Eric Altamirano, the former commissioner of Chooks 3x3, as its tournament director. Alaska team governor Dickie Bachmann, who heads the 3x3 division, has also confirmed that they are in contact with FIBA regarding the development of their competition.
"We are in contact with FIBA. I had like maybe two or three meetings already, two meetings with them a few months ago," Bachmann said in a recent press conference.